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Araus v. Mooney

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 3, 2017

CARNELL ARAUS, Petitioner
v.
V. F. MOONEY, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.

         Background

         Carnell Araus, an inmate presently confined at the State Correctional Institution, Coal Township, Pennsylvania (SCI-Coal Twp.), filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Named as Respondent is SCI-Coal Twp. Superintendent Vincent Mooney. Service of the petition was previously ordered.

         Araus seeks federal habeas corpus relief with respect to a November 18, 2014 decision rendered by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Parole Board). The decision at issue, in part, recalculated Petitioner's maximum release date from February 26, 2019 to February 3, 2022 based on a finding that he was a convicted parole violator. See Doc. 1, ¶ 12. Araus explains that he was not given credit for time spent confined as a technical parole violator from December 31, 2012 to June 11, 2014 and that period should have been applied against his maximum release date. Petitioner also contends that the Parole Board's calculation of his new reparole eligibility date constituted a double jeopardy violation.

         Respondent seeks dismissal of the petition on the grounds that Araus failed to exhaust his state court remedies and his pending claims are meritless.

         Discussion

         Petitioner was found guilty of third degree murder on March 6, 1997 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania and was sentenced to an eight and a half (8 ½) to twenty (20) year term of imprisonment. See Doc. 5-1, Exhibit 1. On December 13, 2004, the Petitioner was released on parole. See id. at Exhibit 2.

         Araus was recommitted to prison on May 25, 2007 for violating the terms of his parole and his parole violation maximum date was computed to be June 19, 2016. Petitioner was released on parole for a second time on June 18, 2007. See id. at Exhibit 4.

         On February 11, 2009, Araus was again recommitted for violating the terms of his parole. His parole violation maximum date was recalculated to be September 4, 2017. Petitioner was granted release on parole for a third time on June 27, 2011. See id. at Exhibit 8.

         Petitioner was retaken into custody following his December 31, 2012 arrest on new criminal charges. As a consequence of this new arrest, the Parole Board issued a detainer against Araus that same day. A March 13, 2013 Parole Board decision recommitted him as a technical parole violator pending disposition of the new criminal charges. Petitioner did not appeal that determination.

         Following his June 11, 2014 entry of a guilty plea to charges of terroristic threats and simple assault, Araus was sentenced to a new term of imprisonment. Petitioner was recommitted to prison for an eighteen (18) month term as being both a technical and convicted parole violator by a Parole Board decision of September 11, 2014. See id. at Exhibit 11. The Parole Board further determined that Araus would not be eligible for reparole until December 11, 2015 and his parole violation maximum release date was set as being February 3, 2022. The Parole Board's decision was affirmed on November 18, 2014 following an administrative appeal. A petition for review filed by Araus was dismissed as untimely by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on January 12, 2015. See id. at Exhibit 15. Araus did not seek further review from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

         Exhaustion

         Respondent initially contends that the pending petition should not be allowed to proceed because Araus failed to both timely file an appeal with the Commonwealth Court and did not seek review from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. See Doc. 5, p. 6. The Respondent concludes that Petitioner has procedurally defaulted his pending claims and as such they are precluded from consideration by this Court.

         Federal courts generally refrain from considering the merits of a habeas corpus claim by a state prisoner unless the applicant has complied with the exhaustion requirement set out at 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). This provision requires that the state courts must be given a fair opportunity to review allegations of constitutional error before a litigant seeks relief in federal court. See Baldwin v. Reese, 541 U.S. 27, 29 (2004). A petitioner has not exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the state “if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented.” 28 ...


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